this is "nightline." >> tonight, city of ghosts. citizen journalists inside a stronghold of isis-controlled territory in syria. fighting back with cameras. risking their lives to document what they call the silent slaughter of their city. their work making them enemies of the terrorist group. >> they suffer immensely for what they've done. they've lost colleagues. they've lost family members. >> why they say they are never backing down. >> either we will win or they will kill all of us. >> plus -- ♪ turn it up it's your favorite song ♪ >> the man who launched the career of "k45i7bd to the rhythm"
>> she walked in and immediately i thought this girl ace star. >> but behind the music he's an instrument of change, working to exonerate those imprisoned unjustly. and rob kardashian posts graphic nude images of ex-fiance blac chyna as revenge for supposedly cheating on him. now she is responding with some damaging accusations of her own. but first here tonight, the "nightline" 5. number 1 coming up in just 60 seconds. every tv doctor knows that when preparing for surgery, use an over pronounced washing technique for dramatic effect.
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good evening. and we're going to start here tonight with the young people taking on isis in some of the most risky and creative ways imaginable. with the terror group's stronghold of raqqa, syria under assault tonight by u.s.-backed forces, you're going to get to meet the middle-class kids from this city who are fighting back with something they believe is more powerful than guns or bombs. this is what it looks like to have isis take over your hometown. and this is what it looks like to resist. it's a modern-day david and goliath story. >> they
constant threat. >> reporter: now depicted in the new documentary "city of ghosts." a heroic band of young friends turned citizen journalists who at grave personal risk seek to expose the reality of life under isis. inside their native raqqa, syria. horrors that outside media have rarely been able to cover. they call themselves raqqa is being slaughtered silently, or rbss. their goal, to bring international media attention to what's going on in raqqa. oscar-nominated director matthew heinemann followed their work against the isis propaganda machine. >> they really just wanted to protect and expose the horrors of their town because they -- they wanted to fight for their people. >> reporter: the film comes at a
defeat isis in syria and iraq. isis control is crumbling in mosul, and just this week u.s.-backed fighters have advanced into the see of raqqa, which has been the terrorist group's de facto capital since 2013. ♪ but despite losing ground isis's propaganda machine is still going strong, and the mission of these citizen journalists has been to use counterprogramming to fight it. >> what were you trying to show in terms of the difference between their propaganda materials and reality? >> ouisis was reporting that everything was fine, raqqa was paradise, and for us we started to film the reality, what's really going on there in the city. >> reporter: aziz al hamasa and ha mooud al musa grew up in raqqa and were motivated to start their act viv group to provide a contrast to isis's glossy highly produced recruitment videos.
>> translator: isis also claimed that all civilians are supporting and welcoming them and they are enjoying public support, which wasn't true. so it was our mission to show the other face of isis in the city. >> reporter: they started capturing and posting stark scenes such as these of the harsh realities under isis. like children waiting in neverending lines for food. their facebook page quickly became one of the only non-isis sources for information. >> the fact that these guys are combating that with sort of a countercampaign, a counterpropaganda campaign to expose the truth was a fascinating story to me. >> reporter: we met aziz and hamoud in new york city during the week their film premiered at the tribeca film festival. >> our main goal is to reach out
audience of people around the world to tell them about what's going on in our city. >> reporter: they both told me they never expected to become activists. >> i didn't come from a political background. family i had nothing to do with. politic, media, whatever. i was biochemistry student. >> reporter: but now they are considered enemies of isis. threats to their lives became so intense that aziz, hamoud and many of the others were forced to flee syria. but they figured out a way to continue their work from the outside.
how much danger are these 17 reporters in, and how much time do you spend worrying about their well-being? >> if anyone will notice that they are doing something wrong, reporters or collecting the news, they will be executed. but when you believe in something, you will not care about what will happen. >> either we will win or they will kill all of us. >> they've suffered immensely for what they've done. they've lost colleagues. they've
you know, they're still being threatened by isis. >> reporter: hamoud in particular has paid a heavy price. there's an incredibly moving and horrifying scene in the film where you're watching the video that isis made where they murder your father. and you say that you actually watch this video a lot. why is that? >> translator: every time i feel tired or that i should stop my work and stay away from the uprising and the media because of everything i have lost, i watch the video and watch the look in my father's eyes. it feels like if he is sending me a message to continue what i have been doing and to never stop for the sake of those who died. >> reporter: aziz is now living in germany. he and others sought refuge there after one of their own was killed by isis.
in the film we see the bittersweet reunion with his team. but even life outside of syria doesn't promise safety. they were hunting you down and killing you. your friends, many of them died. did you not think at any point this is too dangerous, i've got to stop? >> they gave their life for this work, for this organization. so we feel ashamed even to think about stopping this work. >> reporter: as the fight to drive isis out of raqqa is under way, they are hoping that one day their work will no longer be necessary. do you have any optimism that peace will come back to raqqa and that you may be able to move home someday? >> i hope so. so i'm still optimist ic.
ghosts" opens from amazon studios and ifc films in new york city on friday and then nationwide over the next several weeks. next here on "nightline,"@man who helped launch katy perry and "royals" singer lorde is helping seek out and right the cases of the wrongfully convicted. of proof ti can take on psoriatic arthritis with humira. humira works by targeting and helping to block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to both joint and skin symptoms. it's proven to help relieve pain, stop further joint damage, and clear skin in many adults. humira is the #1 prescribed biologic for psoriatic arthritis. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment, get tested for tb.
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♪ health care works best when it's centered around one thing: you. we are kaiser permanente and we believe that with better research, the right medicine, and connected and comprehensive care, we're helping millions thrive. ♪ visit kp.org/wearekp to learn more. ♪ it is the surprising side hustle of the man behind katy perry, lorde, and kid rock. not only does he have an eye for talent, but he also has one for injustice. here's abc's elizabeth vargas. ♪ turn it up it's your favorite
>> reporter: you've heard of katy perry. "chained to the rhythm" of her catchy hits like "i kissed a girl." ♪ i kissed a girl and i liked it ♪ but you probably don't know this man's name. it's jason flom. and he's responsible for launching katy's career and dozens of others. today the ceo of lava records is hanging out with wyclef jean. ♪ wrongly convicted just ain't right ♪ the audience is a bit unusual. it includes a man who set up this barber shop after spending 20 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. >> i was wrongfully convicted at the age of 17. >> reporter: turns out the music mogul, who's been wildly successful at launching hitmakers, gets his inspiration from exonerees. >> i'm fascinated by their stories and i'm fascinated by their strength and their courage and their spirit. >> reporter: flom is a founding board member of the innocence project, a non-profit that uses dna evidence to exonerate
to date the group has helped free almost 200 people. >> you have a fascinating job and yet you have found this whole other second existence in the innocence project. why is this such a passion for you? >> we have two separate systems of justice in this country, one if you have money and one if you don't. and that is a fundamental inequity that has to be addressed. >> reporter: many innocence project clients have been guests on flom's podcast called "wrongful conviction." >> i walked past the guy's cell, he's hanging there. >> the scene you're describing makes shawshank redemption sound like a disney movie. >> main goal for me of the podcast is to open the minds of the audience, every one of whom is a potential juror. >> there is a healthy segment of the population in this country that says if you're in prison you're guilty. >> what i say to those people is you need to learn. you need to educate yourself because it could happeto
walking into sing-sing, the notoriously dangerous maximum security prison in westchester, new york. he's here to see convicted killer john adrian, or j.j. velasquez. >> give you a hug, by the way. >> reporter: velasquez is an innocence project client, serving 25 years to life for the murder of a retired police officer. flom believes velasquez when he says he's innocent. >> he's a wonderful person. he's been helping me out right now in obtaining clemency possibly. we did a podcast in the end of january. >> the suspect they were looking for was a black male with dreads. right? >> right. >> have you ever been a black male or had dreads? >> maybe in another life. >> they built a case against him which when you look at the facts makes absolutely no sense. >> reporter: flom's pursuit of justice seems to be in his dna. his father, joseph flom, was a prominent mergers and acquisitions attorney. your dad was a lawyer. big-time lawyer, actually.
me. he said do whatever you want to do. try to be the best at it. but just make the world a better place. >> reporter: he wanted to be a rock star, but his mom said he need odd a real job, so he started at the bottom of the music industry ladder, hanging up posters in record stores. >> staple gun and double-sided tape. the tools of the trade, right? i was able to find a band and convince my boss to sign them. we put the record out, and it exploded. >> reporter: flom went on to sign a who's who of rock and roll at atlantic records and then virgin records. ♪ we're not gonna take it twisted sister, stone temple pilots, and kid rock to name a few. how do you know when you listen to a song that art involvement has something? >> once in a while you get that tingly feeling. you have to act on that instinct. ♪ we'll never be royals >> reporter: that instinct kicked in when he heard this song, "royals," by a then unknown new zealand teenager named lorde. >> she was already lorde. i mean, she was
>> reporter: but there was a california girl he almost missed. katy perry, you almost passed on her, didn't you? >> she walked in, and immediately i thought this girl's a star. and then i played it for my senior staff. most of them were like, this is horrible. and i was listening to katy on my headphones, and i was like, oh, my god, i'm an idiot. i think i totally screwed this up. like she's brilliant. >> reporter: flom's intuition has made him a trendsetter. >> they said i was robbing a dice game, which was a joke. you know. >> reporter: his podcast "wrongful conviction" now recording its third season taps into the current cultural fascination with whodunits and who didn't do its. >> they put me in this predicament with this guy, either he was going to kill me or i was going to kill him. >> reporter: for flom it all started in the 1990s. when he read a newspaper article about a young man sentenced to life in prison for a non-violent first offense drug crime. >> he wasn't innocent. but i just thought the sentence
to what he had done. >> reporter: so flom picked up the phone and called an attorney friend who took the case pro bono and eventually got the man released from prison. >> the lights went off in my brain. i said this is my purpose in life. there's half a million people in jail in america that haven't been convicted of anything but they can't post braille. then of course cal yves browder relate brought it to light. >> at age 16 caliph browder was sent to rikers island for allegedly stealing a backpack. his $3,000 bail was way too much for his family to pay. >> i didn't rob nobody. >> you didn't? >> no. >> reporter: browder turned down a plea bargain on principle. >> you're not going to make me say i did something just so i could go home. >> reporter: he was an exception. more than 90% of defendants who wait in jail without posting bail will plead guilty, even if they didn't commit the crime. browder was never convicted and eventually he was released. but the brutality of rikers stayed with him. just two years after he got out
the bronx. >> some of the most violent, dangerous institutions in the country are actually jails, like rikers island. people will plead guilty to things they didn't do. >> reporter: because of stories like caliphs flom helped create the bronx freedom fund, the first charitable bail fund for new yorkers charged with low-level offenses. >> 97% of our clients have shown up for every court date. which totally destroys the myth that we need cash bail in order to compel people to show up for their court dates. >> place was full of blood already. >> reporter: today flom's recording a new episode of his podcast. his guest, antoine day, was convicted for a killing that happened in chicago while antoine was in new orleans. >> you were 1,000 miles away. right? >> right. >> when the thing happened. >> reporter: antoine served ten years before getting a new trial and having the charges against him dropped. >> i appreciate you having this platform. for a guy like myself to be a
this is so important. >> i feel a very heavy sense of responsibility to do as much as i can for as long as i can. and that's exactly what i'm going to do. >> reporter: for "nightline" i'm elizabeth vargas in new york. next here the all-out digital war between rob kardashian and his ex-fiance blac chyna.
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and finally tonight, an example of the worst that social media has to offer, courtesy of rob kardashian. >> how are you, rob? >> rob kardashian is giving new meaning to the term baby mama drama. the reality star lighting up instagram today, accusing blac chyna, his ex-fiance and the mother of his baby girl, of cheating. the series of angry posts included private naked pictures of the stripper turned entrepreneur that many are decrying as revenge porn. perez hilton weighing in via twitter, "hey, blac chyna, might be a good time to google revenge
after outcry over the explicit posts instagram suspended rob kardashian's account and he then moved the public fallout to twitter, where he continued his tirade. chyna responded on snapchat, where she has alleged the sock mogul physically abused her. "rob, you did all this but you beat me up and try to act like it never happened. you put a hand on me and i swear on god." an attorney representing chyna has told abc news they are considering all legal options and recourses at this time. we want to thank you for watching abc news tonight. and as always, we're online 24/7 at abcnews.com and on our "nightline" facebook page. thanks again for watching and >> 14 questions, 14 answers, and $1 million in the balance. but, hey, no pressure, right? let's play "who wants to be a millionaire." [dramatic music] ♪ ♪ hey, everybody. welcome to the show. are you gu
for "millionaire" today? [crowd cheering] good, because we're in the middle of a great game. today's returning contestant is the ultimate trivia game player. he's effortlessly gotten to $30,000 with all of his lifelines intact, and without batting an eye. from san francisco, california, let's welcome back les chun. [crowd cheering] les, how you doing? >> good, thank you. >> welcome back. you are in the midst of a great game. we'll catch everybody up to date in just a minute on that. um, but i want to go back. you're a trivia game fan. >> definitely. >> you do a lot of trivia. >> yes. >> and it all started, i guess-- numbers with your grandfather? >> yeah. when i was just a little kid, my grandfather ran a grocery store, and i was able to add up customers' baskets before he could actually ring them up. >> so, he'd be sliding them and adding them up, and you would do it in your head. >> right. and so for some reason, the customers didn't want to actually believe an eight-